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Ghost Recon: Future Soldier beta to launch in January 2012

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This is one of those unfortunate news stories (for the writer, that is) where all of the information you need to know is right up there in the headline. It’s news that’s worth relaying though, considering how long Tom Clancy fans have been waiting for some new first person shooting goodness. While Ghost Recon: Future Soldier won’t be arriving in stores until the beginning of next year, fans will be able to get an early jump with the online beta, which we now know starts in January 2012, thanks to the official Ghost Recon Twitter feed.

Unfortunately, that’s the sum total of useful information revealed about the upcoming game. The rest of the big revelations came out of E3, as you can see in Ryan’s preview. It’s fair to speculate with the beta set for January that we probably won’t be seeing the full game until mid-February, at the earliest.

One thing you probably won’t be seeing in the beta, which is exclusive to the Xbox 360 platform, is the Kinect-powered Gunsmith mode. Revealed at E3, Gunsmith promises to take the concept of “gun porn” in games to a whole new, much more tactile level. While many shooters these days feature some amount of weapon customization, in Future Soldier you can literally break your firearm down to its constituent parts by spreading your hands out.

If you’ve seen the Iron Man movies and Tony Starks motion-controlled holographic computers, you know what this looks like. The broken-down weapon can then be customized with everything from your typical underbarrel mods and sights to gas chambers and muzzles. You can even test the weapons out on a firing range using motion controls, though this functionality doesn’t extend into the main game.

There hasn’t been a new release in the Ghost Recon series since 2007, not counting the Nintendo 3DS game Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars, which drops the first-person action in favor of a turn-based tactical strategy game with RPG elements. Future Soldier is powered by all sorts of new technical bells and whistles, and it looks like a monumental improvement over the previous release, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter 2.